Quarterback Cardale Jones announces he will return to Ohio State

Quarterback Cardale Jones announces he will return to Ohio State
Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones leaves a news conference in Cleveland on Thursday after announcing he would not declare for the 2015 NFL draft. (Mark Duncan / Associated Press)

So, he wasn't a three-and-out after all.

Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones announced on national television Thursday that he would return to school next season instead of declaring for the upcoming NFL draft.

Jones, a third-year sophomore who has started three games in his college career, led the Buckeyes to the first College Football Playoff national title with a 42-20 win over Oregon on Monday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

"It was very simple to me," Jones said during a live news conference. "The NFL, after three games, was out of the question for me."


Jones was the team's third-string quarterback entering the season. He was thrust into the starter's role after injuries to starter Braxton Miller and backup J.T. Barrett.


Jones took over as starter against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Conference title game. His commanding performance in a 59-0 win was probably the reason Ohio State even had a chance to win the national title.


The College Football Playoff selection committee had to weigh the merits of advancing a team playing with a third-string quarterback.

Jones' performance persuaded the committee to award Ohio State the fourth playoff spot over Big 12 co-champions Baylor and Texas Christian.

Jones followed the Big Ten win with victories over No. 1 Alabama in the national semifinal at the Sugar Bowl and No. 2 Oregon in the championship game.

In three games, he completed 56 of 92 passes for 860 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions.

Jones' return creates a potential quarterback logjam for the Buckeyes, as Miller and Barrett both have eligibilty left. Miller has already graduated and could transfer without having to sit out a season.

Barrett will be a third-year sophomore next year.

Jones said he was ready to compete for the starting job.

"I don't want anything given to me," he said.

ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said before the announcement that he did not believe Jones was a first-round pick.

"I don't see it happening," Kiper said a few minutes before Jones' announcement. "I don't see second round as a guarantee."

Ultimately, though, Kiper said, "talent wins out."

Jones said he hoped someday to play in the NFL, adding, "I want the timing to be right."